"The title on Christopher O’Conner’s business card is completely accurate.Indeed, the 25-year-old Memphis native is the president and founder of a 3-D animation and graphics company. And much like their leader, O’Conner’s staff of 11 employees are also all under the age of 30. But as a name like Prodigi Arts signifies, O’Conner’s company has embraced young talent — and their clients are seeing the benefits.
"Our goal is to be the top creative arts company in this region,” O’Conner said. “We want to create job opportunities for young professionals and give them an opportunity to stay here and live here and help to grow Memphis.”That vision has fueled O’Conner’s up-and-coming design firm that he founded in 2005 while a student at Middle Tennessee State University.
After making 3-D designs of buildings and vehicles for companies, O’Conner decided to try his hand at design and entrepreneurship while his friends were all heading out West for jobs at big animation companies.But it wasn’t until O’Conner spent a year as an intern at a 3-D animation firm in Nashville that his eyes were opened to a need that wasn’t being met back in his hometown of Memphis.“Businesses should want their brands to be as successful as possible,” O’Conner said. “We don't want people outsourcing outside of Memphis. We want to provide a place here for them to get Grade-A, quality work just like they get anywhere else.”
Tapping Memphis-based talent, Prodigi Arts now offers graphic design, animation and video production. O’Conner’s efforts have helped Prodigi to secure local clients such as Fleet Equipment, the Germantown Performing Arts Centre and national accounts such as Teens, Inc., a Los Angeles-based social networking company. But one of Prodigi’s biggest success stories so far has come from Memphis Cultural Arts Enrichment Center's Watoto De Afrika. The performing arts group, led by O’Conner’s father, Donald, has used Prodigi to develop set designs, advertising pieces and even animated characters used in a performance.“After seeing their work,I was excited because they are doing something different and their approach is new,” Donald O’Conner said. “I've been in this business all my life, and these guys have fresh ideas.”
Prodigi’s reach has also stretched beyond the Bluff City,as various recording artists have tabbed O’Conner and his staff for design work. Asheville, N.C.-based musician Edgar Hillman drives to Memphis just to meet with O’Conner so that his albumcovers can benefit from Prodigi’s graphic work.“It’s well worth the drive,” Hillman said. “O’Conner is really good at getting a concept and then knocking out the design work. I throw a concept out there and he has a knack for giving me just what I wanted after laying some ideas on him.”While developing a national client base, Prodigi’s main goal is to grow its Memphis client base and bring a fresh,cutting-edge style to the Mid-South. Prodigi creative director Ronnie Lewis said the company will be able to compete locally with larger firms because their specialty is emerging technology.“We are all young and we keep up with current design trends and we watch the world change,” he said. “We want to turn heads and get people involved so that when people walk by a billboard, they want to stop and look at it and attend the event.”